In the UK, it may soon become legal to watch TV and other content while in an AI self-driving car. This is one of the changes being considered in the draft legislation for these vehicles by the UK government.
The Department of Transport (via The register) confirmed the planned changes to the Highway Code, which includes rules and guidelines for the use of roads in the UK. These changes aim to allow users of self-driving cars to experience the full benefits of the technology, while clearly stating what the responsibilities of the people in these cars are. It is set to provide clarity as these types of autonomous details potentially become more common on roads.
One such clarification is about what people can actually do while riding in an autonomous vehicle, and while screens are on, cell phones and probably video games are off. Although some of these cars are powered by high-end gaming equipment like PCs.
“The plans also include a change to current regulations, allowing drivers to view non-driving content on integrated screens while the autonomous vehicle is in control. phones in autonomous mode, given the greater risk they pose in distracting drivers, as shown in the research.” explains a section on the Department of Transportation’s website.
Given the current state of autonomous vehicles, even watching television seems like a very dangerous thing to do behind the wheel. However, it looks like the UK is drawing the line in interactive media, not allowing things like phones, which can definitely be more sweeping at times. It’s certainly harder to disengage from a game, turn off the device, get back to thinking about the car, and apply emergency brakes than it would be to look away from a TV show or the like. As long as something super juicy isn’t happening, of course.
Still, it’s good that these are things the Department of Transportation is considering. Vehicles will likely be gradually introduced into the drivable population, and will only be able to drive at lower speeds and other safety restrictions for a while. Having clear rules in place before self-driving cars are all over the road is a smart idea, even if they need to be changed in the future. The next step is to ensure that the public is educated about these rules, as self-driving cars potentially become more common.
There are also many other benefits to self-driving vehicles, besides being able to follow your stories on the way to work. Transport Minister Trudy Harrison believes that the introduction of these technologies will lead to safer and more environmentally sustainable road activities.